We all love our equine partners – some of us even consider our horses to be our best friends. “My horse understands me better than any human being ever will,” a good friend of mine said triumphantly the other day while out at the barn. Five minutes later, she was cursing that intuitive equine under her breath as she chased him through a maze of stalls. He had become the inventive equine. That’s right, folks, our horses are amazing creatures that fill our lives with joy and happiness…until they throw us a curve ball that makes us wonder just why we don’t stick with dogs or cats.
The Escape Artist
You’re showing off your horse’s perfect manners at the barn or a horse show and beaming with the joy that only comes from being the proudest horse parent in the world. You’ve just finished telling one of your buddies how amazing it is to have such a well broke and dependable mount when it happens…you look back and find that your horse is missing. That’s right, he’s unlatched his stall, pushed open the door and is embarking on a game of “chase” that will ensure you don’t have to go to the gym for a week. If this scenario has happened to you, you’ve crossed paths with the “Escape Artist” – a horse who manages to unlatch, unbuckle, roll under or jump over anything that you use to “fence him in”. At least your life is interesting, right?
The Tale of the Missing Hoof Pick
Just like one of those mysteries that Sherlock Holmes himself has trouble solving, the “missing hoof pick” is the barn equivalent of the socks that go missing in your dryer every week. It doesn’t matter how many hoof picks that you buy, how brightly colored that they are, or how many pieces of bailing twine that you thread through them until they resemble those obnoxious bathroom keys at the gas station, you are going to lose hoof picks. No one knows where they go, although I suspect there is some sort of grand, underground gathering place where picks of all shapes and sizes scurry off to in order to live out their days away from horse manure. If you have a horse, just factor the purchase of multiple hoof picks into your budget now, you’ll thank yourself later.
The Sneaky Sneeze
You don’t have much time and you’re dressed in your best work clothes – you know, that pressed white shirt or fancy new blouse you paid way too much for – and you decide that you’ll just swing by the barn to do a couple of quick horsey chores. It’s going well and you’ve managed to mix up some grain, spray on some fly spray, and check your horse over for any wounds or ailments, and your clothes are still pristine. This is going to be a good day! With a smile, you sidle up to your horse and give him a pat on the head when he breathes in and blows out a mixture of dirt, snot and other horsey-debris. You stand there is shock as your horse gives you’re his best “What?” look. You almost made it out… Trust me, if you stop by the barn with the intention of staying clean, you won’t…just get used to the idea. Hey, on the plus side, at least everyone you work with will know that you have a horse.
The Great Chase
I truly believe that when we’re not around, some of our horses all stand around the proverbial water cooler – or trough – and discuss the best ways to evasively toy with their owners just enough to be annoying, but not so much that treats are withheld. Maybe there is a prize or title that we don’t know about that is awarded to the horse who holds out the longest when his owner is trying to catch him; extra points go to the horse that plays “chase” when it’s either raining, extremely hot outside or when his owner is on a tight schedule. If you have a horse who likes to play “the Great Chase” game, you’ve likely employed every trick in the “Big Horseman’s Manual” to fix this issue, but let’s face it, some horses are always going to delight in a good game of chase. So, do yourself a favor, and never assume that your horse is going to cooperate in a timely manner…when you don’t have the time, that’s when it’s going to take the most time.
Yep, this unfortunate event only requires a one word title: Slobber. Sometimes it’s green, sometimes it’s a frothy white, sometimes it’s a nice tan, grain-like consistency…whatever the color, it’s going to get on you, on your horse, on your show clothes, barn doors, blankets, etc. Most of the time it’s easy wiped off and actually kind of cute (come one, who hasn’t laughed at their horse after he has taken a bite of green grass and suddenly has a green horsey mustache?), but sometimes, slobber can be more troublesome. You’re all ready to go into the show ring and you’re wearing your best white breeches. You’ve managed to keep the dirt and dust off of yourself, and you turn your back for a split second when it happens…your horse wipes his slobbery face right across your backside. I say that the new trend should be green breeches in the show ring…who’s with me? Horses slobber – get used to it, and carry a damp cloth…everywhere!
When it comes to horses, we have to be ready for anything. Our horse can turn from the intuitive equine to the inventive equine in a moment. They bring us joy, they give us some of the best laughs of our lives, but sometimes life with horses can be slightly “sigh worthy”. In the end, though, it’s all worth it to be an equestrian!
Cover Photo: Sharon Jantzen at Vintage Cowboy Winery